A new life science startup that plans operations in the Triangle and Hangzhou, China, is off to a hot start, raising commitments of $100 million in financing.

The first $50 million has already been secured, says Ascletis.  The funding should be sufficient for operations through 2015, according to the firm’s website.

Founded by a former GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) executive, the new venture plans to target drugs for treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.

Backers include the Hangzhou Binjiang Investment Holding Company in China as well as what the company described as “private entrepreneurs.”

The co-founder and chief executive officer of Ascletis is Dr. Jinzi Wu, who most recently led HIV drug discovery efforts at GSK. He worked at GSK’s U.S. headquarters in RTP.

“We are very pleased to complete this significant investment that provides a strong financial base and committed long-term support from a group of experienced private investors,” Wu said in a statement. “We believe that the formation and funding of Ascletis represents the first large-scale investment by Chinese entrepreneurs in U.S. pharmaceutical/biotech innovation.”
Wu, who holds a PhD, also has worked at Novartis, Aventis and two other firms over an 18-year career.

The co-founder and lead investor is Jinxing Qi, a 48-year-old billionaire and real estate magnate who also runs Hangzhou Binjiang.

“Ascletis has assembled an experienced U.S.-based management team with proven ability in the discovery and development of high value therapeutics for global medical needs, who can effectively leverage China’s highly trained workforce and cost-efficiencies for the company’s discovery and development efforts,” Qi said.

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